While visiting Atlanta last week, Sergio Marchi, Canada’s minister of international trade, encouraged the city’s small- to medium-sized companies and its businesswomen to seek business ties in what he termed as Canada’s knowledge-based economy.

      He also had sharp words for the U.S. Congress saying that the U.S. must guard against isolationism when the rest of the world is experiencing financial crisis and this hemisphere’s governments are in the process of establishing a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).

      The country’s politicians should recognize that all trade is local, he added, describing initiatives his government has made to encourage Canadian small- to medium-sized businesses and women entrepreneurs to recognize the benefits of trade.

      At a luncheon held at the Georgian Club and sponsored in part by the Atlanta Women in International Trade, he said that women-owned and women-led businesses were the fastest growing sector of Canada’s economy, providing more jobs for Canadians than the top 100 Canadian firms combined.

      He added that he had made special efforts as minister to increase their international activities, and specifically referred to his department’s  Businesswomen in Trade web site.  The first Canada-U.S.A. Businesswomen’s International Trade Summit is to be held in Toronto in May.

      Concerning the international financial crisis, he said that the U.S. must assist with a financial solution and remain supportive of the FTAA which is to hold its next summit in Canada sometime in the next millennium. 

      He criticized the U.S. Congress for not approving fast-track authority, which mandates a single up or down vote either granting or denying the president authority to sign a treaty.  No self-respecting nation would ever sign a treaty twice, he said during the luncheon at the Georgian Club and then again the next day at the Carter Center.

      Annual trade between Canada and the Southeast now stands at more than $40 billion, he said, more than all of the U.S. trade with Russia, Sweden and Argentina combined.  Canada exchanges products worth nearly $7 billion a year with Georgia, he added.

      For more information about the visit, call Mary Jane King at (404) 532-2000.